"Making history" means moving forward and that's the task of the working class!

29 June 2016

Cameron's EU referendum gamble has flopped. His attempt to pull the Eurosceptic rug from under Ukip's feet, to stop the growing unrest within his own party, finally backfired. Cameron certainly hoped for a "Remain" vote - as did his capitalist masters in the City. But having won only 48.1% of the votes against 51.9% for Leave, he knew that his party's wannabees - whether Leavers or Remainers - would be going for the kill. He had little choice but to announce his resignation for September, thus opening the race for his successor.

As a result, the very same in-fighting and overbidding - which led to this referendum in the first place and went on continuously within Tory ranks during the campaign - will carry on. And, predictably, the Brexiter Boris Johnson - Britain's version of Donald Trump, with just a thin varnish from his time spent in Eton and Oxbridge - is already featuring as a strong contender among those aspiring to inherit Cameron's title.

Backward-looking lackeys of the City

Meanwhile, the referendum results are generating a considerable amount of hot air. Brexit politicians keep going on about what a "great nation" Britain is going to be, now that it is "free to go it alone". Never mind that this country is hardly more than a dot on the map, with less than 1% of the planet's population - or that its social and economic existence is heavily dependent on the rest of the world, Europe included!

Only those who are nostalgic for the "great" days of the British Empire can still talk such nonsense. Unable to go back to those days, the Brexit politicians are hailing this referendum as a "historic day" - as if turning the clock back by 43 years, to when Britain first joined the ancestor of the EU, could possibly be "making history"!

What these Brexiters will do with what they describe as their "mandate" to leave the EU, is another question, because it depends on many factors which are mostly beyond their control.

No-one can tell, for instance, what the economic impact of the financial speculation generated by this referendum will be. The fact is that the 24/7 mobilisation of the big financial institutions during the days preceding and following the referendum failed to prevent hectic movements in the value of the pound and acute turmoil on stock markets, both in London, Europe and further afield. Nobody could predict in advance the scale of this disruption. And now, how far will it go?

But, above all, whoever replaces Cameron in Downing Street will have the City's ruling circles breathing down his neck. And, Brexiter or not, Cameron's successor will have little choice but to toe the line laid down by British Capital - including ensuring that it retains its present full access to the EU market, whatever the price.

What now for the working class?

For the working class, all this means more of the same attacks on jobs and conditions, more of the same cuts in public services and social budgets, that it has experienced over the past 6 years - if not worse, should the economic situation deteriorate. But then, in this respect, a Remain vote would have brought the same result anyway, judging from the cuts announced by Osborne at the time of his (real) budget.

The staunchest Leave strongholds were in Tory heartlands. Nevertheless, media commentators and politicians were quick to blame working class Labour voters for the Leave victory. Some Labour right-wingers even demand Corbyn's resignation, for being "too soft" on migrant workers!

But in Labour's strongholds, these same voters who voted Leave, voted Labour in last May's election - not Ukip. If they chose to vote Leave, it was not necessarily out of anti-migrant prejudices, contrary to what so many politicians claim. It was primarily because many of them saw this as a chance - the first for a long time - to say that they'd had enough of falling living standards and more than enough of Cameron's anti-working class policies. It's not for nothing that the strongest Leave vote in working class areas come from impoverished, industrial graveyards such as Bolsover, Mansfield, Barnsley, Chesterfield, Middlesborough, Corby, etc...

What is left of this campaign, however - and, in fact, of the past years of scapegoating migrant workers - is a divisive and poisonous atmosphere which could become dangerous if the working class does not deal with it.

Voting has never brought about any change for the working class. But direct action against the bosses' offensive, their politicians and their system, can - if it unites all its forces behind common fighting objectives. Then and only then will we really be able to "make history", by taking society forward!